God shows Himself even in the field that longs to separate itself from Him
God shows Himself even in the field that longs to separate itself from Him
Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24–25
At his death, the great artist Michelangelo left many unfinished projects. But four of his sculptures were never meant to be completed. The Bearded Slave, the Atlas Slave, the Awakening Slave, and the Young Slave, though they appear unfinished, are just as Michelangelo intended them to be. The artist wanted to show what it might feel like to be forever enslaved.
Rather than sculpting figures in chains, Michelangelo made figures stuck in the very marble out of which they are carved. Bodies emerge from the stone, but not completely. Muscles flex, but the figures are never able to free themselves.
My empathy with the slave sculptures is immediate. Their plight is not unlike my struggle with sin. I am unable to free myself: like the sculptures I am stuck, “a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Rom 7:23). No matter how hard I try, I cannot change myself. But thanks be to God, you and I will not remain unfinished works. We won’t be complete until heaven, but in the meantime as we welcome the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, He changes us. God promises to finish the good work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).
God, thank You that You make us new creatures through the work of Your Son Jesus Christ, freeing us from our slavery to sin.
He is the potter; we are the clay.
God has revealed Himself to mankind and provided all that is necessary for a relationship with Him. Yet many people foolishly refuse His offer.
By choosing to live without God, a person will spiral downward into sin and a skewed view of the truth. As ignorance overpowers the capacity for intelligent understanding, an ever-darkening heart develops. The individual hungers for something to fill his emptiness but fails to recognize that only the Lord can satisfy his longing.
Desiring to fill his spiritual void, the person will look for an idol to worship. It won’t be a statue of wood or gold, but rather something on which to focus his affections. “Idols” occupy a person’s passion, time, and energy; in today’s world, they often take the form of money, prominence, and relationships. The “worshipper” begins to indulge in earthly pleasures and desires, yet nothing can satisfy the emptiness. Eventually, as Romans 1:28 makes clear, the Lord will turn such a person over to a depraved mind—one that can no longer make right judgments.
Remember, the heavenly Father desires a relationship with us. He even gave His own Son to make this possible. It is man who rejects Him and begins the journey toward godlessness and emptiness.
Look around. Notice the manifold evidence that points to a holy, loving God who desires an intimate friendship with you. Don’t put off accepting His offer of relationship—the consequences of rejection are far too dangerous, and the benefits of saying yes are beyond what you can imagine (Eph. 3:20).
“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4)
God has given two great commissions to His people, both of which would require worldwide effort to accomplish. Both, however, were so resisted that God Himself had to step in and force His people to be obedient.
Immediately after the great Flood, God gave the following command: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1). This was an extension of the Edenic mandate given to Adam in the beginning, a commission to fill the earth and exercise dominion over it under God (1:28). Noah’s descendants, however, decided to stay in Babel and “make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” As a result of this rebellion, “the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (11:4, 9).
Over 2,000 years later, the Lord gave His disciples another great worldwide commission: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Then followed the coming of the Holy Spirit, and soon “the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7).
But they remained in Jerusalem instead of spreading out to “the uttermost part of the earth” (1:8). Therefore, God once again intervened, and “there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem: and they were all scattered abroad” (8:1). Then, finally, began their full obedience to the great commission, for “they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word,” and eventually some “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” will stand in saving faith before the Lord (Revelation 7:9). HMM
1 Peter 2:13, 14
True religion is always the friend of order, as well as of liberty. The gospel is no doctrine of anarchy, and the Christian is no fomenter of strife,
1 Peter 2:13, 14
Civil government is necessary for the well-being of mankind, and those who delight in the law of the Lord are among the last to wish to see its power weakened, or its executive despised. We had sooner suffer wrong, than see our country the prey of lawless mobs.
1 Peter 2:15
Men are ready enough to speak against our holy faith, and in Peter’s day the charge was laid against Christians that they were the enemies of social order; the habitual obedience of Christians to the laws of the countries in which they were scattered was the most conclusive answer to the calumny.
1 Peter 2:16
Believers are the freest of men, but they know the difference between liberty and license. As servants of the Lord, they submit for peace sake to man’s laws which do not contradict God’s law, because their Great Lawgiver so commands.
1 Peter 2:17
This is quite as much our duty as to honour the king. Manhood deserves honour,—not wealth, dress, rank, and so on, but man, as our own flesh and blood; for however poor or obscure a man may be, he is a man for all that, and as such must not be treated as if he were a beast.
1 Peter 2:17
Four precepts which are meant to balance one another. There should be a blending of them all in our lives.
1 Peter 2:17
fear or respect
1 Peter 2:19, 20
Ordinary people can do that, but Christians are extraordinary men, and must rise to the highest style of virtue;
1 Peter 2:19, 20
but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. Many will say, “If I had deserved it, I should not have cared about it.” But it is evident that were we guilty we ought to care all the more. If we are wise, we shall feel that if we do not deserve a rebuke, we can bear it patiently, and thank God for the grace which enables us to rejoice amidst it all.
1 Peter 2:23
What an example! May the Holy Spirit enable us to imitate it. He was the paragon of patience, the mirror of endurance. He was absolutely perfect, and yet was infinitely a sufferer, but he never complained, or resented wrong. Master of Patience, teach thy disciples.
1 Peter 2:25
Let us then follow our Shepherd wherever he leads the way. Especially in the paths of sacred patience and forbearance, let us walk in close attendance upon him. For this we need thy grace, O Spirit of love!
My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
I read my duty in thy word;
But in thy life the law appears
Drawn out in living characters.
Such was thy truth, and such thy zeal,
Such deference to thy Father’s will,
Such love, and meekness so divine,
I would transcribe and make them mine.
Be thou my pattern; make me bear
More of thy gracious image here;
Then God, the Judge, shall own my name
Amongst the followers of the Lamb.
The devil loves to make a playground out of people’s minds and imaginations. He delights in filling their perceptions and senses with illusions that captivate them, paralyze them, and ultimately destroy them. How can believers avoid falling victim to the devil’s attacks? They must make a spiritual and mental decision to take charge of every thought that enters their minds!
Taking your thoughts captive is going to require determination and energy. Once you make the decision to do it, you still have to stick with that decision. If you’re not really committed to seizing every thought the devil tries to inject into your mind and emotions, he’ll be back to strike you again and again. And if you don’t stop the enemy’s thoughts from invading your mind, it won’t be long until your faith begins to empower those thoughts and they become a bona fide reality in your life!
Mark 11:23 is a powerful verse about faith and confession that believers claim and use around the world. But the principle in this verse works in both a positive and negative sense—or to put it another way, this principle works both in the realm of God and in the realm of the devil.
Mark 11:23 says, “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” According to what Jesus taught in this verse, you can bring to pass whatsoever you say and believe in your heart.
Did you notice that Jesus said if a person confesses something “and shall not doubt in his heart”—in other words, if he believes the words he is speaking with his mouth—he will have exactly what he says. The word “doubt” is from the Greek word diakrinomai, which means to hesitate, to waver, to doubt, or to differ. In context, Jesus is saying that when a person’s heart doesn’t differ from what his mouth is saying, the combination of his heart and mouth in agreement will always make things happen!
I call this concept “the heart-mouth connection.” For instance, if you believe in your heart that Jesus purchased your healing, and you put your heartfelt faith together with the confession of your mouth, you can literally bring that healing into manifestation in your physical body.
Creative power is released when the heart and mouth get into agreement! That is why you must be careful about what you believe in your heart and say with your mouth, because when your heart and mouth get “in sync” with each other, it literally makes things come to pass!
This heart-mouth combination works on both the positive and negative sides of life. It can bring about the manifestation of healing in your body, salvation to your family, prosperity to your business, and growth to your local church. But the devil also knows how to use this principle against you!
The enemy knows if he can fill your mind and heart with lies that you believe and then coax you into confessing those lies with your mouth, you will make those evil images come to pass in your life! That is exactly why the devil wants to fill your mind with lies and accusations. That’s why he paints so vividly on the “movie screen” in your mind. That’s why he assaults your mind and emotions again and again. He knows he just has to get you to embrace these lies and to start believing them.
Once you do that, you’ll soon start speaking those lies out of your mouth. And if you start speaking them with your mouth, it will only be a matter of time until they become your reality. Jesus said, “… out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). So according to Jesus, whatever is in your heart is eventually going to come out of your mouth!
Because great power is released when your heart and mouth start working together, it’s extremely important that you put the right things into your heart. Mark 11:23 promises that whatever you believe in your heart and say with your mouth will come to pass. But as I said before, it doesn’t just apply to Bible verses; it applies to anything you believe in your heart and say with your mouth. So if the devil can get you to believe and say wrong things, your own heart and mouth will cause those killer confessions to come to pass.
I know it’s hard to control your mouth sometimes, but when you start to “run at the mouth” and say any ol’ thing the devil puts in your head, you’re playing with fire! It is a scientific fact that when you speak something out loud, those words are verified and empowered in your mind. That’s why the devil wants you to repeat every stupid thing he puts in your mind. By repeating it out loud, you are helping him build a stronghold in the realm of your mind and imagination!
This is another reason why it’s so important for you to spend time in the Word of God. As you spend time meditating in the Word, your mind becomes renewed to God’s way of thinking (see Ephesians 4:23 and Colossians 3:10). God’s Word brings a supernatural cleansing that washes your mind and emotions from the contamination of the world, the memories of past experiences, and the lies that the enemy has tried to sow into your brain.
When you make it a priority to fill your mind with truth from God’s Word, the enemy can’t penetrate your mind and he can’t fill you with his lies. And if you’re not filled with his lies, you won’t be speaking and confessing things that are untrue! You see, when your mind is renewed to the Word of God, you become inwardly strengthened and very hard to deceive!
Satan knows that empty heads are much easier to deceive. That’s why he loves it when he finds a believer who has made no effort to fill his mind with truth from God’s Word. The devil knows he has found another empty head just waiting for him to come along and fill it—and he’s happy to oblige!
Who or what is going to control your mind? God and His Word, or the enemy and his lies? Your mind is going to be filled with something, so you may as well choose the right thing to fill it. Your choice in this matter will determine your success or your failure in life, so make sure you choose wisely!
Lord, I want my heart and mouth to say the right things! I know I need to spend more time filling my heart and mind with Your Word. I also know I need to be speaking positive confessions about myself my family, my business, my future, my health, and every other area of my life. Your Word has the promises I need for every sphere of my life, so I ask You to help me fill my heart with the truth and line up my mouth with what Your Word promises for my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that I spend time meditating in the Word of God, and it renews my mind to God’s way of thinking. God’s Word brings a supernatural cleansing that washes my mind and emotions from the contamination of the world, the memories of past experiences, and the lies that the enemy has tried to sow into my brain. I make it apriority to fill my mind with truth from God’s Word; therefore, I make it very difficult for the devil to penetrate my mind with his lies.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Satan knows that empty heads are much easier to deceive. That’s why he loves it when he finds a believer who has made no effort to fill his or her mind with truth from God’s Word. The devil knows he has found another empty head just waiting for him to come along and fill it—and he’s happy to oblige! Who or what is going to control your mind? God and His Word, or the enemy and his lies? Your mind is going to be filled with something, so you may as well choose the right thing to fill it. Your choice in this matter will determine your success or your failure in life, so make sure you choose wisely!
The true test of your walk with God is not necessarily determined by how involved or dedicated you are within the confines of your local church, noble as your service there may be.
Rather, the test may center in the rough and tumble climate of the “marketplace” where greed, seduction, power games, and Machiavellian pragmatism commonly prevail. It is into this environment that the Master Strategist has undoubtedly placed you to affect lives for His glory.
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one… I… pray for those who will believe in Me through their word.” (John 17:15, 20)
If you happen to be a hands-on achiever who is bent on getting “results” (profit, efficiency, visibility, image, timing, etc.) you daily face the temptation of using people as pawns and bending ethical and moral absolutes.
In this high voltage setting of the marketplace, Jesus can easily be pushed into a servile role at the fringes of your operation, only to be called upon in moments of crisis.
If, in this environment you still entertain aspirations of fruitfulness among your colleagues, there needs to be a funeral.
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
Only then will you be able to allow the very life of Christ to help you achieve your professional goals in a manner that is compatible with Biblical values.
One way many business and professional men and women rationalize their ineffectiveness at ministering in the marketplace is by busying themselves in service behind the less threatening walls of the church.
Ironically, the folks at work may see scant evidence in them of the life of Jesus, while the brethren at church may view them as dedicated saints!
QUESTION: How do you think your marketplace colleagues view you?